Education News

Education Minister: Class composition limits discriminate against special needs

Finally, an Education Minister who’s making some sense! George Abbott has publicly endorsed the position taken recently by Victoria parents and the Victoria Board of Education, opposing discriminatory class composition caps introduced under Bill 33 by former Education Minister Shirley Bond.

MOMS and other parent advocacy groups, along with trustees and administrators, opposed the caps imposed in 2006 with the passage of Bill 33. Only the BC Teachers Federation supported the caps at the time. Now, with another round of labour contract negotiations once again stalled interminably, the province’s teachers are again demanding discriminatory class composition limits as a solution to unmanageable classes.

Below is an analysis I wrote last year on why class composition caps will never solve the challenges of unmanageable classes and unmet needs among students with learning challenges, and what we need to be looking at instead.

  • Read: Class composition and the special needs problem

I’ve summed up key points in a letter to the Vancouver Sun:

Kudos to Education Minister George Abbott. He’s absolutely right that legislated limits on students with special needs in K-12 classrooms are discriminatory.

Parent groups were united in opposing the class composition limits introduced in 2006. They have proved unworkable, failing to help students or teachers while creating nightmares for administrators.

The solution to unmanageable classes is not discriminatory quotas but better support for teaching and learning that addresses the realities of today’s diverse classrooms. That means broader training for teachers, restoring learning supports eroded by a decade of provincial underfunding, flexible models that adapt to actual needs, and appropriate use of technology and innovation to help all students overcome learning barriers without expecting teachers to be superheroes.

Time for the Province and the teachers union to stop posturing and put students first by immediately reinvesting in learning supports and training, addressing gaps in teacher certification standards and supporting new multi-stakeholder frameworks for constructive and collaborative problem solving.

Dawn Steele

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